12 fun facts about SA's Central Library

Throwback Thursday airs every week on KSAT News at Nine

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, Valerie Gomez - Video Editor, Andrew Wilson - Digital Producer

SAN ANTONIO - With more than half a million volumes of resources, fiction and history, the San Antonio Public Central Library is much more than just books.

It's been evolving for more than century. KSAT News at Nine featured the library for its Throwback Thursday series. Here are some interesting facts about the library. 

1. The First Carnegie Library of San Antonio opened in 1903. The original building at 210 W. Market Street was constructed with funding donated by Andrew Carnegie, on property donated by Caroline Kampann.

2. Flooding in 1921 forced the temporary closure of the Carnegie Library. It was razed in 1929 and the new main library was completed in August 1930 on the original site. The name changed from Carnegie Library to San Antonio Public Library. 

MORE: Colonial rule in SA: Here's some interesting facts about Spanish Governor's Palace

3. In 1968, a new three-story Main Library building opened on the corner of Market and South St. Mary’s streets.

4. San Antonio voters approved the Library/Literacy Bond Issue in 1989, and funds were approved to build the new Main Library. 

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5. Internationally known Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta was selected to design the new library building at 600 Soledad Street. It was the former location of a Sears Department Store. The Main Library's grand opening was held for the building on May 20, 1995.

6. The Central Library, which was completed in 1995, is the first to be named “Central.” All previous main library locations were called “Main Library.”

7. The building made an architectural statement that brought national and international acclaim. Legorreta wanted to allow visitors to interpret the architecture through exploration, discovery and imagination.

Legoretta brushed aside criticism of the bold exterior color known as “enchilada red” that was chosen for the building. He “wanted to do a happy building.”

8. The library building does not reveal itself all at once from a single viewpoint. It draws visitors in to discover something a little different each time they visit. 

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9. An estimated 2,000 5-gallon cans of “enchilada red” were used to paint the library. Other colors used throughout the building are purple and yellow.

10. In 1996, a popular scene from the movie “Selena” starring Jennifer Lopez was filmed at the library.  It is the scene where Selena meets with members of the Mexican press before her concert.

11. According to its website, the Central Library has 580,257 volumes: ​​​​​​

That includes an extensive collection of non-fiction books located on the second floor. Fiction is located on the fifth floor. Media, express and the Latino Collection and Resource Center are located on the first floor and Texana/Genealogy Center is located on the sixth floor.

12. The Central Library’s building will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020.

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